Orthox Ltd.

Orthox Secures Major Wellcome Trust Award

Kick starts development of innovative knee repair device based on silk technology

Oxford, UK – 16 February 2009 – Orthox Limited, the tissue repair company using silk technology, today announced the award of a prestigious Wellcome Trust Translational Award worth over £1.6 million.

Orthox is developing a range of novel orthopaedic products for the repair of cartilage. The Company’s core technology is Spidrex® cartilage – a remarkable silk biomaterial combining the resilience, high strength and bioresorption found in spider silk.  The silk technology is the result of a decade of research by Oxford University scientists, Professor Fritz Vollrath and Dr David Knight.

The Wellcome Award will be used to fund the development of Orthox’s regenerative meniscal (knee cartilage) repair device.

The meniscus is a crescent-shaped cartilage pad found in the knee joint between the femur (the thigh bone) and the tibia (the shin bone). The meniscus acts principally as a shock absorber, to dissipate forces and stabilise the knee joint.

Meniscal injury is a huge, unsolved clinical problem, especially with ‘baby boomers’. It is associated with aging, obesity, and sport injuries. Damage to the meniscus is difficult to repair successfully and frequently results in osteoarthritis; eventually knee joint replacement is often required. Knee replacements now cost the NHS more each year than total hip replacements, estimated at nearly £1 billion by 2010.

Approximately 1.3 million meniscal arthroscopies – knee repair procedures – are performed in the developed world each year, but there is currently no proven long term effective remedy. A recent American study estimated that almost half of all adults will develop osteoarthritis of the knee by age 85; the odds increase if people are obese in middle age.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Richard Seabrook, Head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust, said,
“Largely thanks to medical advances in recent decades, people are living longer, more active lives. But coupled with increasing obesity, this means knee problems are now a major issue for health services across the world. The Wellcome Trust appreciates both the need to find a regenerative solution to knee damage and the potential of the Spidrex® technology to address an increasingly common but complex clinical problem.”

Founder and CEO, Dr Nick Skaer added,
“We are delighted that our innovative technology has gained recognition by the UK’s leading biomedical foundation, the Wellcome Trust. This funding will enable us to initiate the roll-out of our pipeline of Spidrex® products, starting with our meniscal repair device. In the future, we plan to develop further Spidrex® products for other serious orthopaedic problems, such as spinal disc repair and bone regeneration. This significant award provides the springboard for a major equity finance round which Orthox will launch later in 2009”.

For further information, please contact:

Orthox Ltd
Nick Skaer, CEO
Martin Hunt, Chairman
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 232110
Email: information@orthox.co.uk
Web: www.orthox.co.uk
PR to Orthox
Melanie Toyne Sewell
Tel: +44 (0)7767 66 00 40
Email: m.toynesewell@btinternet.com
Wellcome Trust Press Office
Michael Regnier, Media Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7611 7262
Email: m.regnier@wellcome.ac.uk


Notes to Editors

Orthox Ltd

Orthox is an Oxford based company focused on developing medical devices designed to regenerate damaged cartilage and bone tissues. Employing a revolutionary “scaffold” technology, ‘Spidrex®’, which is based on a protein found in silk fibres, Orthox has a pipeline of devices aimed at helping the body to heal defects in bones and joints which would in many cases lead to implantation of a permanent metal or plastic prosthesis.

Orthox’s Spidrex® tissue scaffolds have been developed by parent company Oxford Biomaterials, which was spun out of Oxford University in 2002. The scaffold’s porous structure supports human cell growth with the aim of gradually being absorbed and replaced by regenerating cartilage or bone tissue. Spidrex® tissue scaffolds combine these features with great resilience and a high mechanical strength which can be closely matched to the strength of the tissue being repaired, giving them a clear advantage over traditional materials.

By combining great strength and excellent capacity to support tissue regeneration Orthox’s aim is to provide products which allow surgeons to repair bone and joint injuries in a way that not only functionally compensates for the injury in the short term, but also allows a long term solution through the bodies own capacity to heal itself.

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing. www.wellcome.ac.uk

Download PDF: Orthox-Wellcome Press Release 16th February 2009